Friday, September 23, 2016

S-O-S Books: Another Look

A few weeks ago something occurred that I'd never given much thought to before. As an indie author, it's not something that affects my books, but as a reader, it's something that still has me scratching my head asking, "how is that fair?"

The Situation:
It was the week before Labor Day and a Facebook group I belong to was all abuzz because copies of Sarah J. Maas's upcoming book, Empire of Storms, was showing up on bookseller shelves at least a week (more in other places) before the release date. On and on the group members cried about the unfairness of the situation and how the booksellers that put the book out early should be fined. 


I was curious to see if my local Barnes and Noble had the book out early but I wasn't too concerned... I've just started the first book in the series so Empire of Storms wasn't a book I was dying to get my hands on like other people. 

No, upon a visit to my local Barnes and Noble on September 3rd, they didn't have Empire of Storms on the shelf. However, they did have the Throne of Glass Coloring Book, And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich, and another book I'd heard mentioned, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova; none of which were supposed to be released until September 6, 2016. 

When I brought this to the group's attention and asked, slightly frustrated,  what was wrong with these bookstores lately I was met with a completely different reaction than those that brought forth comments about the EOS "tragedy."

I was basically told that if the book (in my case And The Trees Crept In, which I did purchase) wasn't marked S-O-S when it was shipped to the store then the bookstore could put the book out whenever they felt like it. Basically, the reaction was, "who cares?"

What Are S-O-S Books?
Yes I know dear readers, I thought S-O-S meant Save Our Ship, too. I honestly before that day had never heard that term before when it came to books. So what does S-O-S mean when it comes to books? 

After a little digging, I learned that S-O-S means Strict-On-Sale. Apparently when some books are so highly anticipated - think Harry Potter, Twilight, or in this case, Empire of Storms - publishers place a sticker on the boxes of books sent to booksellers marking them "Strict-On-Sale" as in "if you sell these books or even open the box before the printed release date, YOU ARE IN BIG TROUBLE." There's even an embargo or law if you do break that agreement and the bookseller could be slapped with fines. 

Why Aren't All Books S-O-S?
This is a question I'm still puzzling over. I mean why is it that some books are considered more important than others? Why is it that a group of people can get so hysterical about the early release of one book but be so nonchalant about the early release of another? 

How is putting out a book early fair to the publisher of that book or the author, no matter what the book is? If booksellers have to option to say, "this box is taking up space in my stock room, I think I'll stick the book out today even though the release date isn't until two weeks from now," just because the book isn't marked "S-O-S" then why do publishers even set release dates? I mean if booksellers are going to set the books out whenever, just willy-nilly then why even bother? 

The other thing that bothers me is how is that fair to a reader that may really want to read a certain book when a bookstore in let's say, Appleton, Wisconsin (my nearest store) sets out a book five days before it's release but a reader who's dying to read it in Denver, Colorado has to wait until the release date because their local bookseller doesn't put it out until the release date? And don't even get me started on people who've pre-ordered a copy online or are waiting for an eBook copy to be delivered to their Kindle/Nook/Kobo/iPad, etc. They still have to wait until the release date! 

But of course when I voiced this opinion to the group I was told a bookseller couldn't keep every book that comes in until the release date; that would be unrealistic. How stupid of me for even suggesting it! After all, life isn't fair and some people just have to suck it up. (Those last two sentences weren't actually spoken to me as much as they were implied.)

In my opinion all books should be S-O-S, otherwise why bother setting a release date at all? How can you market something when technically a book isn't supposed to be out until "this date" but some stores set it out on "this earlier date?" 

As an Indie Author, I set the release date for my books carefully and thoughtfully. I don't just randomly say, "Oh, by the way, my next book comes out on Tuesday," a week prior. That wouldn't give me enough time to get people excited about the book, nor would it make the release date special. What good would it do to say "Into the Light will be on sale on December 13, 2016," then put it out two weeks earlier? Hint: it wouldn't. 

How Would You Feel?
Let's forget books for a minute. How would you feel if you were really looking forward to a new video game, or a movie coming out on DVD, or concert tickets - all of which were going on sale on a SPECIFIC date but let's say a Walmart in Louisville, Kentucky put the video game out a week early and you live in Omaha, Nebraska. Or a Target in Houston, Texas started selling that DVD five days before the Target store in your hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota? Or worse yet, the ticket seller for the concert you want to go to has the ability to print tickets before they go on sale for herself and her friends, so she does. How would you feel? Outraged, if you're anything like me. I'm sure you're thinking, "well if I don't live in that place how would I know?" But that's the whole point! It's the craftiness, the sneakiness of the booksellers I'm talking about. If you run a red light at 3 AM and there's nobody else on the road to see it, does that make it okay? No, no it doesn't. 

So what do you think? Do you think it's okay for booksellers to put out books whenever they feel like it? Or if they have to wait to sell one book, should they have to wait to sell all books that come in before their release date? Why or why not? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"What I'm Reading" Wednesday #41

After the amazing ending of And The Trees Crept In that totally blew my mind (read my review here), I needed a genre switch so this "WIR"-Wednesday I'm reading...

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Blurb:
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Why I Chose This Book / What I Think So Far:
I love the ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Maas, so when the Good Choice Reading blog was holding a virtual signing for Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) I decided to order a signed copy of this first book in the series. Yes, that's right, I'm totally new to the TOG series. Don't look so shocked, you have to understand that a year ago I had never even heard of Sarah J. Maas and I didn't even read fantasy novels. Then I picked up ACOTAR and ACOMAF through GCR's virtual signing for ACOMAF in May. And I fell in love with that series, but sadly ACOTAR #3 doesn't come out until May 2017. Huge bummer! So since I've never read this series I thought I'd give it a try. So far, since I just started Throne of Glass last night, I'm only starting chapter two. I like what I'm reading so far, so we'll have to see if I'm totally fangirling over it by the time I'm finished! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Blurb:
When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt's home, it's immediately clear that the "blood manor" is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too--the questions that Silla can't ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that's appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

My Review:
Fourteen-year-old Presilla "Silla" Daniels leaves her troubled London home with her four-year-old sister Eleanor "Nori" (who doesn't speak) to live with an aunt they've never met who lives far away in the country. 

Seeking refuge from their abusive father they arrive at La Baume, her mother's childhood home - a house painted the color of blood. Inside they meet their aunt, Catherine "Cath." 

From the first night they spend at La Baume, Silla thinks there's something not quite right about the house. Aunt Cath is friendly enough and she tries her best to make the girls feel welcomed and loved. Everything is going along fine... until it isn't. 

Soon the mansion becomes a nightmare; Aunt Cath goes up to the attic and doesn't come down leaving Silla and Nori to fend for themselves. Three years pass and everything withers and dies, food is scarce, and the trees around the house seem to be getting closer. Silla begins to lose hope. Is this terrible turn of events being caused by the Creeper Man who lurks in the woods Aunt Cath told them not to go into?  

Everything begins to change when an attractive young man named Gowan arrives. He claims to have been one of the orphans Aunt Cath took in when La Baume served as an orphanage but is Gowan telling the truth? Nori takes to him immediately but Silla is cautious. Why does Gowan keep trying to get her and Nori to leave the house? Will Silla accept Gowan's help? Can Silla get to the bottom of what's going on at La Baume before the Creeper Man gets her and Nori? Is any of it even real?

And The Trees Crept In is an AMAZING read! I loved it a million times more than I liked The Dead House. Where The Dead House gave me a creepy feeling,  And The Trees Crept In wove an intense mystery I wanted to unravel. Yes, there were scary scenes but it was more psychological than gory. 

Dawn Kurtagich is a wonderful horror writer. She leaves you gasping for more as you find yourself unable to put the book down, even in the wee hours of the morning when you're afraid that if you close your eyes for even a minute the trees will start closing in on you. I fell in love with the characters and the end was... I don't want to say beautiful? romantic? hopeful?... although it was in a way. My heart ached the most for Gowan, especially when you find out the whole story. 

Overall, I thought this book was perfect and I wouldn't change anything about it. 
My Rating:
5 of 5 Stars

Monday, September 19, 2016

Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite (The Selection Series #2) by Kiera Cass
Blurb:
The Selection began with thirty-five girls.

Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever - and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want - and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.

My Review:
America Singer has made it into the top six of the Selection, The Elite and she's grown used to life in the palace while her feelings for Prince Maxon grow. 

When Maxon shows America the journal of one of his ancestors, the first king of Illea, Gregory Illea, so she can finally learn what Halloween was America finds herself reading the first king's innermost thoughts and plots - not only to increase his power but to transform the country into the dreadful place it has become. At times America fears she sees that same crazy ambition reflected in Maxon's eyes. 

When the Selection takes a darker turn and the attacks from the rebels begin coming closer and closer together, Maxon and America's relationship begins to change as cracks form in their bond. America struggles with her growing feelings for Maxon while still holding onto her history with Aspen. But when Maxon starts to get closer to Kriss, America must wonder - does Maxon really love her? Or are his words just pretty little lies? 

Can America really trust Maxon? Or is he just an expert actor making her believe he really cares for her? What is it that the rebels want? Why do they keep stealing books from the palace and what secrets do those books hold? Was Gregory Illea really a hero? Or a wolf in sheep's clothing?  

Let me start off by saying I was REALLY looking forward to reading this book. I loved the Selection so I ran out and bought books two and three right away. But the further I got into this book the more distressed - or maybe depressed - I felt. One thing is abundantly clear to me: I could never be on a show like the Bachelor. The fact that one minute Maxon is telling America she's the one and he's going to marry her at the end of this then the next minute he's so buddy-buddy with Kriss made my heart plummet for America. Maxon says he's only trying with the other girls "just in case things don't work out" with America but if she's truly the one, why would he even bother? 

The other thing that really made me dislike Maxon in this book was the situation with Marlee. I know he redeemed himself in America's eyes later but I'm not sure I would have been able to forgive a guy that allowed something like that to happen to one of my friends. Or the way that when they fight Maxon kind of turns into a controlling jerk. It makes me think America ending up with Aspen wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. 

I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it I liked but there was so much of it that left me feeling... bad? I still at some point might want to read book three and see what happens but at this point is Maxon really even worth having? :/
My Rating: 
3.75 of 5 Stars

Friday, September 16, 2016

COVER REVEAL: INTO THE LIGHT

Squee!!! It's finally time to show you the cover of my upcoming novel, Into the Light (Eternals Trilogy #2)!

But first... here's what you need to know:

Into the Light
Release Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blurb:
It's time to make a choice...

Out of Darkness left you in a cliffhanger. Who will Lizette choose? Sexy, confident Thierry or Luke, the guy she can't stay away from? Will she stay in the shadows or come out Into the Light?

Choose love, choose wisely.

Once Lizette makes her choice there is no going back. Her new life is about to begin whether she's ready or not. In the coming months, Lizette will meet incredible new friends that will show her sides of herself that she never knew existed. But this isn't the happily-ever-after Lizette hoped it was going to be; there will be backlash when the Eternals come out to the world, the guy who stole her heart has a dark past that haunts him in his dreams, and the one she jilted isn't willing to bow to defeat. He'll go to any length to get Lizette, even if it costs someone their life...

There is no going back.

***
And now... for my favorite part: the cover reveal!

Cover Design by Taylor Fenner (me!)

INTO THE LIGHT is available for Pre-Order! Reserve your copy today!

New to the Eternals Trilogy? You can get caught up by reading OUT OF DARKNESS for only $3.99!


Blurb:
Enter the clearing and your life will change forever…

Seventeen-year-old Lizette Weatherly’s life is about to change forever. 

Lizette is a girl who really can’t catch a break. Her parents are overprotective of her and her peers are afraid of her. 

Two centuries ago Lizette's ancestor Jacob and his family disappeared without a trace. All that were found were bloody clothes and mysterious symbols etched into the ground in a clearing near their old house. 

Lizette’s family have been ostracized by the people in the nearby city of Marquette, Michigan ever since. Lizette spends most of her time alone with her old set of tarot cards in her house back in the woods where the sun never shines; until one night when she wanders off into the woods and stumbles upon a group of hooded figures standing around a bonfire.

Lizette soon learns that everything she knew is a lie. She and her family are really descended from a long line of creatures called Eternals, possessing paranormal powers, and she may be the most powerful Eternal alive. For the first time in her life, Lizette has friends and potentially a boyfriend in shifter Thierry. But Bryan, the leader of her generation of the Eternals, is power hungry and he will do anything to absorb Lizette’s power. 

A battle is brewing and Lizette will have to join together with the other Eternals to overpower Bryan. But when a mysterious prophecy is revealed and her fate becomes entwined with shy, brooding, secretive Luke, Lizette begins to question: who can she really trust and who really has her heart? What will happen when it’s time to step out of the darkness?

Add to Goodreads

What are your thoughts on the cover? Do you like it as much / more than OUT OF DARKNESS? Who do you think Lizette should choose? Luke or Thierry?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: Wake the Hollow by Gaby Triana

Wake the Hollow by Gaby Triana
Blurb:
Forget the ghosts, Mica. It’s real, live people you should fear.

Tragedy has brought Micaela Burgos back to her hometown of Sleepy Hollow. It’s been six years since she chose to live with her father in Miami instead of her eccentric mother. And now her mother is dead.

This town will suck you in and not let go.

Sleepy Hollow may be famous for its fabled headless horseman, but the town is real. So are its prejudices and hatred, targeting Mica’s family as outsiders. But ghostly voices carry on the wind, whispering that her mother’s death was based on hate…not an accident at all. With the help of two very different guys—who pull at her heart in very different ways—Micaela must awaken the hidden secret of Sleepy Hollow…before she meets her mother’s fate.

Find the answers. 

Unless, of course, the answers find you first. 

My Review:
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is about to take on a whole new twist...

When eighteen-year-old Michaela returns to her hometown, Sleepy Hollow, New York, after the unexpected death of her mother she wants answers. What she finds instead are more questions than answers and a town full of people who still hate her family.

Everyone says Micaela's historian mother stole a journal belonging to Washington Irving. But what was her mother doing with the journal? What secrets does the journal hold? And who wanted it so badly they were willing to kill for it?

As Micaela digs deeper into the mystery it becomes clear that someone doesn't want Micaela poking around into whatever her mother discovered. With a menacing enemy lurking in plain sight who can Micaela trust? Her childhood friend Bram? Or the student teacher, Dane, who Micaela feels so comfortable with?

Will solving the mystery of her mother's murder also solve the mystery of Washington Irving's lost year? Or will a heartless killer silence Micaela like they silenced her mother?

To be honest, Dane was the only thing that saved this book from landing in my D-N-F pile. I got about three chapters in before I figured out the ending and I was just about to give up on this book when Dane swooped in and drew me back into the story.

I loved Dane and I wish there would have been more of a romantic development between him and Micaela than there was. I was naturally distrustful of Bram from the beginning - I mean really if he was Micaela's best friend and he was really in love with her he wouldn't have ended all communication for six years. And I absolutely hated what happened to Coco. I thought it was sick and unnecessary to the story.

Wake the Hollow naturally casts Micaela, Bram, and Dane into roles of Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Bram was a dead ringer reminder of Brom Bones, Dane - in his student teacher disguise - was like Ichabod Crane, and Micaela was their Katrina Van Tassel.

Overall, I liked Wake the Hollow, I just found it a little predictable at times. Once I got the past few chapters I wanted to finish it and it was a nice read for the fall season. I just wished the ending had been different because it just kind of leaves you hanging.
My Rating:
3.75 of 5 Stars

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"What I'm Reading" Wednesday #40

This "WIR"-Wednesday I'm returning to the Selection series with...

The Elite (The Selection Series #2) by Kiera Cass
Blurb:
The Selection began with thirty-five girls.

Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever - and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want - and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.

Why I Chose This Book / What I Think So Far:
I really loved the first book in the series and I'm eager to see how America and Maxon's relationship continues now that Aspen is a guard at the palace and there's been two separate attacks on the palace by the rebels. Will America let herself fall for Maxon? Or will she keep him at arm's length?

So far this book is pulling me back into the series after a couple week's break. Thankfully the Elite picks up right where the Selection left off, so starting this book felt like catching up with an old, familiar friend.